UNC System Board of Governors Approves Security Fee Increase

At its Feb. 23 meeting, the UNC System Board of Governors approved raising the student fee for campus security. It’s set to change from $30 to $57 per student.

During a UNC System budget and finance committee meeting the previous week, officials outlined the university’s intentions for the new revenue. It’s intended to support services like the salaries of campus police officers and telecommunicators; hearing officers and qualified investigators for more serious infractions; provide safety and security training, audit, and coordination functions; counseling for substance abuse; and increase Title IX and Clery Act compliance.

“The Board of Governors’ rationale behind it was that we always need campus security,” said Association of Student Governments campus liaison JaQuez Johnson. “Even if campus is not directly telling us that we need the money for it.”

Students have pushed back against the increase, saying that the funds should come from the general assembly, not student tuition. The North Carolina General Assembly’s fixed tuition program dictates that schools can raise tuition only by a maximum of 3% per year. The fee increase for the 2020-21 school year was only 1.3%, leaving room for the new change.

Johnson said that among students, he’s heard very little call for increased funding to campus security and policing. The move also comes in the context of campus Black Lives Matter movements, which have called for defunding police.

ASG President and representative from UNC Asheville Isaiah Greene is also against the fee increase, saying that there has been no consensus on how it will be used or how it will fix problems like officer retention and training. “What we’re really doing is we’re throwing money at a problem that we have no agreement on what the problem is and expecting a solution will be found when everyone doesn’t know what that solution is,” he said.

Student Government Association President Matt Talone, from UNC Wilmington, defended the raise: “There’s also increased discretion with what each campus can spend that money on,” he said, “and the major driving force behind that part of it was trying to fund more suicide intervention and prevention programs.”

Likewise, the board of governors’ budget committee chair, James Holmes Jr., provided further insight into the need for more revenue. “I don’t think we’re in the business of practicing consensus-building,” he said. “We’re in the business of empowering campuses to solve their issues.”

According to statistics from a UNC System meeting agenda, 78% of campus security officers earn below market value for their classifications and skill level. Giving them a salary boost would help increase employee retention and foster a sense of competition in the job market between campus and local police.

Budget committee member W. Marty Kotis III said that, in the face of recent nationwide criticism directed at police and their tactics, the raise is even more justified. “They’ve been vilified,” he said. “Their profession is not one most people want to take on these days both for the public, negative attention as well as the risk of life.”

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